My current Achilles tendon problem is hampering me this week, and of course it had to happen in the lead-up to a race.
I would have been easing up my training anyway this week. A ‘down’ week is always a good idea after a month of solid training, but my main reason is to get ready for the Frank Duffy 10 Mile in the Phoenix Park in Dublin this Saturday (24 August), one of a series of warm-up races for the Dublin Marathon.
Who was Frank Duffy? He was a celebrated coach at the Civil Service Harriers Athletics Club, located in the Phoenix Park. In the Irish Independent recently, Irish Runner editor Frank Greally explained why he merits a memorial race:
“Duffy was a unique character who devoted his life to athletics. He practised what he preached and demonstrated this on his 60th birthday when he ran 60 miles around his beloved Phoenix Park.”
Sixty miles at sixty years of age! How many of us can run the same number of miles as our age? That’s a challenge worth keeping in mind.
Duffy’s memorial race really ought to be a sexagenarian 60-miler, but I’ll concede that an all-ages 10-mile race is more inclusive and has a better chance of finishing before night falls on the park.
This will be my second time running in the Frank Duffy 10 Mile. The first time was in 2004, when I was preparing for my first marathon. (After that I was living in Paris for 8 years, and I wasn’t going to commute back to Dublin for short races.) Back then, all wide-eyed enthusiasm and youthful freshness, I ran the race in 1 hour and 17 minutes.
Now, back in Ireland and with nine years and six marathons on the clock, can I beat 77 minutes? I’ll be disappointed if I can’t – I’ve trained hard and well all year, putting in plenty of sprint and threshold work. I feel faster, but if the Achilles clears up in time then this will be the first test of my current training.
What’s more, the McMillan Running Calculator I featured recently tells me that, for my training and target marathon pace, I should be aiming for a 10-mile race time of 69 minutes. That’s 10 sub-7-minute miles!
I notice that my race number is 7359. I don’t believe in destiny or omens or what have you, but 73:59 (that is, 1 hour 13 minutes and 59 seconds) would be a good time for me to do this 10-miler.
Before all talk of finishing the Frank Duffy 10 Mile, I have to start the bloody thing. I’m depending on my heel getting better in the next few days. Achilles wasn’t a god but I could still try praying to him.